Monday, July 31, 2006

Ain't Nothin' But a Number

I suppose it's inevitable that younger generations look at older ones and compare their (real or imagined) differences. You look at older people and you think "when I'M that old, I will not act like that old biddy!" or perhaps "when I'm her age, I hope I'm as cool as she is." It starts young. When I was a kid, I was sure that I would never, ever deprive any child of mine of a Hostess Ding Dong, I don't care what time dinner is. I also remember making a solemn pact with my 9th grade best friend that if we ever got to the point where we were wearing purple stretch stirrup pants, like, EVER, we were to remind each other of the pact and cease and desist immediately. On the other hand, I also remember studying my older sister like a pint-sized anthropologist, wanting to mimic her in every way possible, from her gliding, graceful walk to the way she poured ketchup all over her fries instead of just making a ketchup puddle for dipping.

I admit, this type of comparison is not a thing of the past for me. Maybe it's a universal thing that we all want mentors, people who are already standing in the place where we will be going, and can model for us the ways we want to do it when we get there, or at least model for us the ways that we DON'T want to do things. Case in point: this week.

I was sitting on the bus, and someone that I didn't know, but who knew someone that I know, came over and sat next to me. "Hey, I think we met at that one place at the time with the thing," she said. "Oh, yeah!" I replied. She seemed, and is, a perfectly lovely person and I was more than happy to pop the Ipod out of my ears and chat with her all the way home. Before I go on, I have to confess that I am someone who never, and I mean never, knows how old people are. I just can't tell, and my mind doesn't even go there. There are people that look like they are approximately my age who are 20, 30, 40, 50. The definitions of what a thirty-year-old is supposed to look like varies so much, as does a forty-year-old, etc. etc., that I don't try to assess. This results in people sometimes asking me about other people: "how old was she?" they ask. "Um, I don't know. Our age?" My definition of "our age" being 18-50.

So, Bus Lady and I, not knowing anything about each other, started to chat pleasantly about nothing in particular. I had no idea how old she was, and could have gone my whole life not knowing that fact about her, just fine. Except, the problem was, she kept REFERRING to it. IMPLYING it. Even ANNOUNCING it. In this sort of fashion:

Me: We just got done moving last month, and I'm glad I did before this hot weather kicked in.
Her: Did you buy a house?
Me: Yes. My first!
Her: (Kindly) Oh, your first house. I'm so old, I can barely remember my first house!

Or, like this.

Her: Cute shoes! Where did you get them?
Me: Shoefly. They are really comfortable. They feel like flats.
Her: I can only wear shoes like this (indicating some very cute hiking shoes). I'm too old for dainty and pretty.

Or, even this.

Me: Ow. I have something caught in my contact lens. Do you have a mirror in your bag?
Her: Sure. (Handing it over and saying jovially), wait until you're my age and you look in the mirror and hardly recognize yourself! Ha ha!

What the--? This was such a conversation stopper. And believe me, if I am in a chatty mood, not much can stop me. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me often, but I have seen it on more than just this occassion. What's with the fixation with age? Does our youth-obsessed culture dig its ugly heels this far into people's minds and hearts? I guess it does. It is so, so sad. And so puzzling. She has no idea how old I am. Believe me, it's hard to tell with anyone. Wasn't Gary Coleman, like, ten when he was playing an almost-toddler? Wasn't Luke Perry way past high school age when he was Dylan McKay? Granny Moses from the Beverly Hillbillies was the same age then as Susan Sarandon is now. So for all Bus Lady knows, I could be her contemporary. For all I know, she is.

As a librarian who works with teens, I certainly don't delude myself into ever thinking that I am their peer or that I could pretend to be. I'm not going to be one of those adults who's trying to do the Roger Rabbit at a teen program to show the kids I'm hip to the scene. (Which is sort of sad, because I do a mean Roger Rabbit). On the other hand, what good would it do me to constantly remind them how far away we are from one another generationally, to bring up, over and over again, how we will not, can not possibly understand each other because the chasm between our ages is so vast that it's futile to even try to talk to each other without pointing it out. I'm so different from you, we have no commonalities, and let's keep talking about how you are young and feisty and I am old and decrepit. Sound like fun?

So, once again, I (maybe full of futility, maybe not) am vowing to never be like this person who has gone before me. I will not become obsessed with age, whether it be obsession with my youth or obsession with my advancing years. I promise. And I will be permissive about Ding Dongs and shun stirrup pants. I am a woman of my word. An old, musty, moldy woman of my word.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

That's My Dad

My parents are visiting. And yes, I am one of those annoying people who loves their parents. Not just in an I-love-you-because-you're-my-progenitor sort of way, but because I think they are awesome people. I would hang out with them even if they were not my parents. They're the coolest. I say this because I am surmising that not many people feel this way toward their parents. The reason I'm surmising this is because, 10 times out of 10, I say to people "my parents are visiting me" and people say back "are they staying at your house?" and I say "yes" and they look at me with so much sympathy that I feel like Sally Struthers should have a commercial on my behalf.

Let me tell you something about my dad. He's a gentleman of a different generation. He's gentle, cultured, and well-mannered, a sort of Islander Cary Grant in his 70s. His British colonial education has him still calling people "chap" and sharing four o'clock tea time with my mom every single day. I have photos of him in the late 1950s back in the homeland, all linen pants and JFK hair, standing in front of coconut trees and wearing espadrilles. He comes from a generation of "Third Worlders" who were raised under the British Empire and then rode the bumpy ride into post-colonialism with idealism, and a heartfelt belief in democracy and justice. On the other hand, he's not above letting my mom dress him in drag and putting on a show so Liza-worthy that it almost made Biology Girl shoot beverage out of her nostrils.

This is what is so great about my mom and dad. They've modeled for me, my whole life, how to be critical thinkers but never, ever judgmental, and to especially question the schism between high and low, intellectual and popular, cultured and vulgar. They understand that all of these distinctions may need to be noted, perhaps, but not reinforced, and that what brings out the best in others is to understand them, not to separate from them. It is exactly these qualities that make the best librarians, and the best people.

My dad bought me a full set of Alice Walker books for my 13th birthday. My dad also didn't censor me or ridicule me for voraciously consuming The Thorn Birds at 15-- instead he engaged in a discussion with me about why I liked it, and suggested some stuff that I may want to think about as I was reading it. But no pressure, no judgment. He didn't freak out. He didn't laugh at me. He didn't boss me. The message was, loud and clear, that you can love something and still be critical of it. And that loving something dumb doesn't make you dumb, it just makes you human. My dad could smack down the best and brainiest in an intellectual argument, but I have never seen him need to do so. It's grace that prevents him. Just grace. The kind that not too many notice, but as I've gotten older, I have.

So the other day I took my dad on a drive. He filled me in on the latest on the ABA's Task Force on Signing Statements, and the July New Yorker article on the President's Iran policy. He asked me how work is going, and wanted me to tell him in some more depth the way that I understand my job in terms of Intellectual Freedom. Then he brings up a sad subject- a relative of mine who has been holding a grudge with another for fifteen years. We talk about the sadness of the situation, and the senselessness of it, and we both hope that the grudgeholder can resolve it before it's too late. He talks about getting old, and how he feels the weight of time on his back, and that seeing people he loves becomes more and more important to him every day. And then, he busts out with this: "There was an episode of the Golden Girls once, where Sophia hadn't talked to her sister from Sicily for forty or fifty years. You remember that one, kid?" My father, ladies and gentlemen. Embracing the power of storytelling, no matter what medium it comes from. I believe the phrase you're looking for is "chip off the old block."

He told me how proud he is of me, not for my job, or my education, or my new house, but for the way that he can see that I am genuinely happy and how I've managed to surround myself with great people. "You've always done so beautifully at choosing great friends," he says, and I think: "you're one of 'em, Dad, you're one of 'em."

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Saturday, July 22, 2006

By George She's Got It!

I'm reasonably sure that my speaking voice is clear, easy-to-understand, and pleasant. All of these are qualities that are nice to have when a big part of your job is to talk to people all day. I don't know that if I had the voice of Harvey Fierstein coming out of my 5'4" frame, that it would necessarily affect my ability to give good librarianship, but speaking clearly must have its advantages. I've even been professionally trained in proper enunciation and diction in one of my earlier careers. Sadly, I did not have anyone pompously cute like Professor Higgins to teach me how to speak propply, but I did all of those "give me the gift of the grip top sock" exercises until I had the most (as Tim Curry playing Dr. Thornton Poole would say) nicely rounded diphthongs. Rowr.

I still retain my Midwest accent, which I happen to love, and can spot in others a mile away (yay for Bill Murray and John Cusack). But other than that, sometimes I fear my speech can be, well, a little boring. I think regionalisms are cool, and random quirky speech ticks are even better. I had a kid come up to the reference desk and ask for Eragon and she pronounced it "Eee-RAY-gun" and I liked that. E-Ray-Gun. It's like a ray gun that shoots people through the power of the internets.

My friends and family all seem to have their own uniquely-pronounced words. Biology Girl, for example, busted out one time, talking about a book that she read, and called the genre "mem-wire." Mem-wire! I can't tell you how much I love that. Dahling, I've seen it all. I'm going to write a tell-all mem-wire. Here's another one. Neighbor J likes to make some of her "eh" sounds "a" sounds. She does so, with pleasure. Or should I say Play-sure. Plaaaay-sure. She works at the thee-ay-ter with im-may-surable playsure. That's better than the Rain in Spain! Wait, there's more. Neighbor B calls "yeah-hoo." It's so laid back, so appropriate for him to say it this way, because he is so laid back. What site are you on, dude? Yeah-hoo. And, perhaps my most favorite of all, Neighbor B's dad can cook you up a nice breakfast and announce them as Eggo Wiffles. WIFFLES! That is so cute I can't stand it. I'll take some more syrup with those wiffles please. I don't know if this pronounciation has any relation at all with wiffle-ball, but I like to think so.

Then there are those that have bard's blood running in their veins, who purposefully re-invent words. Think Snoop Dogg (fo shizzle my nizzle). I am proud to say that Nordic Boy is one of these. He likes to put a random k after s sounds. Where'd you eat lunch today? Skubway. If he's feeling especially jaunty, he'll shorten it even more. Skubbies! Who's this message for? My skister. It's so lovely. Aweskome.

All of these are not really regionalisms, you might be thinking. Yes, that's true. I think Neighbor J's are, but the rest of them, well, people are just saying things wrong. Why do I like that? It's just so individualized. It's like they have claimed a word and put their mark on it. This will be MY word. I will say it how I want to say it! It's how language should be, and is, on a larger scale: creative, evolving, poetic. It's so endearing, and it makes whatever word that you've butchered somehow associated with you. Every time I see a waffle, I think "wiffle!" and think of Neighbor B's dad.

So as I started thinking more about it, I noticed that everyone that I know and love has something like this, even if they don't know it. This made me feel covetous. "Nordic Boy," I said, "do I have something that I pronounce weird?" He thought. And thought. "Nope. I don't think you do."

I was incensed by this. Because I, ladies and gentlemen, am an Individual. (Especially when it comes to something everyone else does. Har har.) So I asked my other friends. "Hey, do I have a word or phrase that sounds funny and distinctive that you've noticed?" Nothing, people! I even asked them to monitor it over a period of time. I'll be waiting. As soon as you notice one, shout it out. Mmm-kay? Thanks.

Months went by. I reminded people at times, just in case they had forgotten. Still nothing. "You just don't have one!" Sigh. I started to resign myself to this sad fact. Until.

Me: "I really want to set up the guest bedroom this way, except I don't think there's room."
Nordic Boy: (pausing like Bambi in the thicket, ears perked up) "That's IT!"
Me: "What? What's it?"
Nordic Boy: "That's your weird pronunciation thing!"
Me: (gleefully) "Where, where?"
Nordic Boy: "Say what you just said."
Me: "I really want to set up the guest bedroom this way, ebsept I don't think there's room."
Nordic Boy: "Ebsept? What the hell is that?"
Me: "I didn't say 'ebsept.' I said "except."
Nordic Boy: "No, you didn't. You said ebsept."
Me: (happier than when re-runs of Welcome Back Kotter came back on the air) "I did??"

And since then, it's held up. When I am not thinking about saying the word "except," I say "ebsept." I don't know where the F that comes from. And my real-life Henry Higgins doesn't want to train me out of saying it. He's skuch a skweetheart.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Am I Playing Walkball?

This weekend we strutted our stuff once again on the kickball field, and lemme tell ya, people, our team is the coolest. We've got so much heart, they should make a movie about us called the Bad News Li-bear-ians. (Don't think I mean the Bad News Liberians, because I don't. And if I have to hear one more time that you thought the Michael Jackson song was "Librarian Girl" instead of "Liberian Girl," get over it. All librarian-girls think that song is about us. And it's not. Unless you're Liberian. Then maybe).

Here's what I love about our team. We give it our all, all the time. We don't care if we look stupid (which, sometimes, you have to in kickball) and we don't pussyfoot around. We are there to PLAY, and have fun, and we don't gripe when the ump calls a play against us, and we don't sulk when things don't go our way. Ok, so we haven't actually WON a game. I always feel as though we have, because we laugh a lot, and kick whatever we can, and cheer each other on. Is that schmaltzy? Do you hear the Rocky theme song as you're reading this? Oh well, so it's schmaltzy. Whatevah.

So let me give you potential and current kickballers out there some pointers. You may ask yourself, who am I to hand out pointers. (You may also find yourself living in a shotgun shack, but we'll talk about that later). I would argue that I am equipped to give out pointers on a special kickball skill set. I can show you, not how to win a kickball game, but how to play a kickball game. There is a difference. Maybe you can have them both at the same time. But if you have to choose, trust me, my way is better. Do you want to have fun, or do you want to win? Fun-chasers, these pointers are for you.

First pointer is for the ladies. Especially for you ladies playing on a team with boys. Don't be a dainty bunter. Just don't. DON'T. Don't let the proximity of the burly boys on your team intimidate you. You've got lots of lower body strength, and even if you don't, who the hell cares? It's kickball, and that red rubber ball has your foot's name on it. I'm seeing it happen over and over again with the femmes on the teams we play against. The girls get up to the plate, tee-hee bashful coy blush blush, the ball is pitched to them, and --toes pointed up like Esther Williams-- tap! The bunt. Now, I'm not saying there aren't times to strategically use the bunt, if it's really called for. But there is an epidemic of women who are bunting every damn time. Every time. Come ON. Sistahs are kickin' it fo' themselves! You can do it! It's more fun to kick the crap out of that ball. It IS. I'll take you out for tea after the game and we can be delicate all we want then. But for now, don't be a bunt broad.

Second pointer. If the ball is pitched to you, and it curves to the point where it would be hard for you to kick it, then let it pass. But if it is pitched to you and it almost, ALMOST goes over the plate, but it doesn't just by a hair, then KICK IT. Don't LOOK for a reason not to kick the ball. Some of you kickballers that we've played are just letting everything pass. Good, bad, medium. It's like you're wanting, at all costs, to AVOID that ball. Just so you can get a walk. We've played people that just keep loading up the bases by letting balls pass and then they take a leisurely stroll from base to base. Half the game is eaten up by ya'll doing this. Ok, so then there's no kicking, there's no running, there's no catching, there's no throwing. How is this fun? Where's the action? Is your team called the Slothballers? You want some Cheetos while you're letting all those passable pitches go by? We'll just be here in the outfield, taking a nap.

Those are my two biggest pieces of advice I can give you for today. If you forget them, just sing this to the tune of "Once in a Lifetime," to remind yourself what not to do. "Letting the balls go by, bunting 'em low to the ground..."

Oh-- I thought of another one. Third pointer. Don't be an ass. You may think this goes without saying. If you do, then chances are I'm preaching to the choir. If you don't, then, hey, teacher! Leave those kids alone. Don't sulk. Don't yell at your teammates if they mess up. Cool it with the haterade. Please. It's not dickball.

Do like my awesome teammates do. Be like JB, who kicked the ball like a cannon and tweaked her leg just a bit, but played the game anyway and cheered the rest of us on through every inning. Or like Nordic Boy, who will go for the ball in the outfield with so much gusto that he doesn't give a good god damn if he eats some dirt or not. Or like Jenny, who played first base and got three people out in quick succession, including one beauty of a play where she bounced the ball off of her boobs right into the oncoming runner, thus pegging him out in a fanciful style.

Those are my pointers for kickball fun. Remember when you were a kid, and kickball was the one game in gym that everyone could at least play a little bit? It wasn't like dodgeball, where most of us ran for our lives as two or three hard-throwers picked us off like clay pigeons. It wasn't like basketball, soccer, or hockey, where no one passed to you if you couldn't cut it. It wasn't like baseball, where you had to have some sort of, well, coordination to make the bat hit the ball. This is kickball. The team sport that gives every little kid a chance. And now it can give any grown-up a chance. Same as it ever was.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Thursday, July 13, 2006


This morning a little boy, about 6 years old, came up to me at the desk and timidly told me that he couldn't find his dad. His eyes were all big, and his lip was all trembley, and I could tell that he was on the verge of totally losing it. He was in a total panic, and I could see in his eyes that he was trying his hardest, his best, to be brave. People, my keyboard confessional for today is simply this: this kind of shit KILLS me. I can't take it, honestly. It's so friggin' saaaaad. This is one of my major problems in life- my empathy goes amok. I am the type of person that sees an elderly person running after the bus and missing it, and I think about it all day. I can see a dog that is waiting outside a store for its owner, and the doggy-cries can make me mist up. People don't really know this about me, as I am a lass full of mirth and cheer. But seriously, Deanna Troi can feel other people's feelings, and so can I. I pulled it together and put the lost kid at ease, walked him around the library, gave him a sticker, and found his papa, but whoa. Now I really need a shot of V-8 or something.

I remember what it feels like to be that little kid. My parents were awesome, loving, and attentive, but losing a kid here and there is bound to happen to anyone. One time, when I was about five years old, I got lost in the mall. My brother and his friend Robert wanted to go look at gerbils in the pet section of Woolworth's, and my mom had to go to the department store at the other end of the mall. In typical tag-along fashion, I wanted to stay with the boys. So she left me with them, with strict orders for them to keep their eye out for me. That lasted for about a half hour, but the gerbil fascination was just too much for them to watch me AND Alvin, Simon and Theodore (yeah yeah I know they were chipmunks, not gerbils, but just let me get on with the story, ok?), so I wandered off into Woolworth's and couldn't find my way back to where they were. Thus began the first Odyssean journey of my young life.

I remembered my mom saying that she was going to be in Hudson's, and I knew that Hudson's was all the way on the other side of the mall from where I was. So I started walking. People, I walked the length of that mall all by myself. At FIVE YEARS OLD. Does this strike anyone else as strange that no kindly adult saw this little trekker and tried to help? What the shit is that all about? I walked the length of a large mall. I mean, it's no Rabbit Proof Fence or anything, but sheesh.

So once I arrived at Hudson's, I had no idea where my mom would be. So I decided I needed to think about what to do next. This memory is so crystal clear, people. From beginning to end, I remember everything. My thought process, what I did, where. In my mind this journey takes days, although I'm sure it was about an hour or two, tops. At this point, I was moving beyond scared, into one heartbeat away from a full on bug out. I needed to regroup. Where did I go to do some thinking? I went into the women's clothing section, and found a nice, big circular clothing rack. I pushed aside the clothes, climbed through them, and sat cross-legged in the middle of the circle. I was perfectly hidden in there, amongst the skirts and shirts. I sat there, and tried to figure out what to do. I knew I should try and find some sort of authority figure, but I hadn't seen anyone obviously dressed in a policeman outfit, or such like. So, who could I ask? What should I do? As I thought, I absently started pulling the paper tags off of the clothes, and throwing them out of my little circle of safety. This, as you can imagine, attracted some attention. Suddenly, my dark and cozy lair was invaded by a shaft of light from above. I looked up. A wrinkled old woman's face peered down at me through the parted hangers. "Oh my!" she said. "How ya doin' punkin?" That's really what she said. How ya doin' punkin. Lemme tell ya, lady, punkin ain't doing so hot. Punkin is having the worst day of her god damn life.

This lady went and got a saleswoman, who came over and coaxed me out of my office. She led me over to one of the counters, and asked me my mom's name so she could page it throughout the store. I remember my mood brightening at this. Oh-KAY, now we are getting somewhere! Things are happening, moving, shaking! We waited a few minutes, but nothing happened. This saleswoman beckoned to another saleswoman, and told her to walk me around the store and see if I could spot my mom.

This woman picked me up and started walking me around the store. She was grumpy and exasperated by this task, and her negative energy, like, really started to harsh my mellow, dude. THIS is the point where I started to cry. I'd HAD it. Wit's end. I started to cry this silent cry, tears rolling down my face, and I started to ask her, over and over, "where's my mom? where's my mom?" Now, I know that this probably annoyed her. She was probably already tired after a long day at work, and now she had a blubbery, soggy-faced kid to deal with. But do you know what this lady said to me? I'm sure you won't be ready for this one, not in a million years. Brace yourself. This fuggin' lady said to me, a five year old kid lost in the mall who was asking "where's mom? where's mom?".... "Maybe she went back to AFRICA, because she SHOULD."

Let's pause here for a second. Just ruminate on that for a moment, if you would.

Ok, so in my young mind, I didn't know what the heck this nutter was talking about. I knew what Africa was, and I knew that my mom had never been there, and had no plans to go. This did nothing but confuse me. Why should my mom go to Africa? Africa??? All I could think was this lady was completely loco.

It was at this moment, my mom spotted us. I still remember her look of confusion, and her arms outstretched to take me back. I did not tell her about what the crazy white lady had said to me. I was just happy to have found my mom again, and too excited to get my brother in some mammoth trouble.

My vivid memory gets me many things in life, not the least of which is the ability to transport myself back to some situation that is similar to the ones that I see around me all day, every day. I know the panic in that young boy's face, and in some ways I make it my own. It's my own version of looking at the world and always wanting to ask: how ya doin' punkin? How ya doin'?

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, July 10, 2006


Am I a Rejuvenile? Let's consider the evidence. I pay my taxes on time, don't let my dishes pile up in the sink, eat dinner at my dining table with real plates and silverware, and I don't sleep past 8am but about once a month. I love broccoli and can find a dessert "too sweet." I don't bite my nails and I read the articles in the paper, but hardly ever the comic strips. I now even have a mortgage, and the need to "catch up on some yard work." Sounds pretty grown-up, right?

Well, maybe not. I think that perhaps I am, at heart, a young one. I'm not talking about Nigel Planer and his ilk. Wow, I just used a Young Ones reference and the word "ilk" in the same breath. I guess I even confuse myself when it comes to adult-town and teen-ville, especially when I have to choose which place I want to hang my hat. Or my skateboard. I suppose I commute from one to the other, and there's really nothing truly wrong with that, is there? I can still rock out to some Sleater Kinney but secretly think that it can be a bit LOUD sometimes. It's just how I roll.

Oh, who am I kidding. This whole post is just a fancy-dance way to tell ya'll about my kick ass kickball team. The Is-Librarian-Girl-a-Rejuvenile debate will cease here immediately. I am on a kickball team. In a league. Pass the Peter Pan Pixie Dust.

So, last night the K-ball team showed up with limber toes ready for kickin'. We made such a valiant effort, I can't even tell you. We started out strong, with Jenny getting on base with a powerful grounder into left field. Then Nordic Boy got up to the plate and pounded it out into the far outfield, and both he and Jenny rounded those bases and brought it all home. First time out, and we are up two runs. Delicious. I felt bad for the other team, who almost had to forfeit due to lack of players. They squeaked through with a minimum of 7 people, and I felt like we overwhelmed them with sheer numbers. It's the kickball deluge, dudes. We are swarming all OVER you!

Well, the swarm didn't last long, because they were hungry. Despite some heroic plays on our part (including Nordic Boy turning a full somersault after catching the ball in mid-air, like some kind of kickball Pele), this other team started to cream us. Whipped, frothy, Cool Whip cream. No matter. We forged on. I'll say this for our team. We are not ones who want to walk to the bases by balling each pitch. We do not want to let those puppies go by. What's the name of the game, after all? Are we here to kick or not? Our team, whenever given the chance, even when the ball wasn't rolling exactly over the plate, friggin' WENT FOR IT. It was awesome. Timid little peonies, we are not.

On the car ride home, Nordic Boy and I talked about how much fun we had, and that everyone else seemed to have a blast too. "Too bad we lost, though," I started to say. "Oh no," he replied in that zen way he has. "Losing is much more...noble."

Just when I think to myself what an adult thing to say, he adds: "plus, our team was way more BALLS OUT!"

Rejuvenile. Hells yeah.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Madam, I'm Adam

Time for a birthday shout-out, friends! Today's birthday girl is Ms. Palindrome. Pal and I met as first-years in college. I don't remember the first time we actually met, but I do remember the exact moment when we became friends. She lived on my floor (or I lived on her floor, or we lived on the same floor), and one day, I was having all sorts of 18-year-old, juicy, angsty drama over the boyfriend that I had left in my hometown, and so for some reason, like a friendship divining rod, I just marched over to her room, knocked on her door, invited myself in (I was a bit pushy back in my youth) and told her the whole sordid story. I have this memory of her sitting in her bed, legs under the covers, reading her homework, and me sitting right on her bed with her, pouring my pathetic story out, like a sad, sorry bedtime story. When I think about it, I can't help but think of how potentially obnoxious this behavior was (as was much of my behavior at that age). I can't recall what made me approach her this way, but I must have known, must have sensed in my short interactions with her, that she was good peoples. From that night forward- insta-presto- we were buds.

Pal was my first friend that I allowed to get all in my business. I mean all of it. She knew everything about me, and I felt like I knew everything about her. I had friends growing up that knew all of my business, but they had to, because they shared in it, their business WAS my business, they were THERE. But Pal was the first person that I purposefully, willingly, decidedly piled my shit onto. Here's all my crap! Let me show you every piece of it, shall I? Lookie, some of our crap matches! It was a beautful thing, truly. The trust that we built up, from strangers to best friends, was so impressive, especially in the midst of the most distrustful period of my life. I'm so proud of us for doing that.

There was a house in our college town that was known as The Castle. It's more of a mansion, I think, but judge for yourself. I don't remember why, but one day, Pal and I were on a walk and we decided to march up the lonely hill to the front door of the Castle and knock on the door. Just because. I think about this and am all agog at the ballsyness of this act. We were eighteen, and didn't know what sort of reception we would get, but hey let's just go aknocking because we are so rockin.

The owner of this house opened the door, and we probably said something along the lines of "cool house!" and he was very gracious to us and introduced us to his wife/fiance/girlfirend or some such, and told us that there was to be a party at the house (which he rented out to organizations for partying purposes) that weekend, and hey, you guys should come.

We said something to the effect of "hells yeah" and skippity hopped back to our dorm. We got ourselves gussied up in our finest, and we went to this party, which forever after we referred to as "The Soiree." It was either a theatre party or an opera-company party or something, I don't quite remember. There was some gathering around the piano for loud showtune-singalong-time, and there was a small fountain of champagne in the living room. A fountain! This blew my young brain. The owners of the house let us look around, and although the guests at the party were not allowed to go upstairs, they took us up. I wish I could remember more details about it, but the gist of it is that we were so excited that we didn't even know enough to feel out of place. We giggled a lot and as we walked up the winding staircase, we held hands.

After The Soiree was over, we went back to our dorm, and although we kind of told people about what we had done, we didn't go into too much detail. It was our Soiree, and we kept it close.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Palindrome. I love you from way back to way forward, the same in both directions.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Heart This

I'm not sure why this is, but something memorable always happens on my Independence Days. Maybe not every year, but almost. There was the time that I somehow got myself into a date on the 4th that included a small yacht off the coast of my city, which was very exciting, but the people I was with were so hipster cool that they didn't even come out from below deck to watch the fireworks, and I was too young and wishy washy to tell them that was so lame and walk up to the upper deck myself. That was a stupid 4th. Then there was the time in high school when I was riding into downtown in the back of my best friend's pick up truck with some other girlfriends and some drunk dude decided to try and run after our truck with his, ahem, "bottle rocket" out, just POINTING it at us, and my friend A.K. threw her coke can at him as we drove away and it hit him, well, just exactly right, if you get my drift. Now, I'm not one to encourage littering like that, but in that case, it was fine.

The best 4th memory I have is from about five years ago, and I think about it every single year ever since then, and I will probably think about it every year from here on out. Biology Girl, Jenny, and I all walked the fifteen blocks or so from my apartment to a street that overlooks the city skyline and the lake above which the fireworks would go off. The place where we stood wasn't a park, and it wasn't designated for the large gathering of pedestrians that filed in at dusk. It was just a city street like any other, except for its vantage point. The crowds drifted out of their apartments, condos and houses, and stood in the street, waiting for the display to begin. It's times like these that I love living in the city so much. There are so many people, and none of us know each other, but there we all are, standing close and, for the most part, acting all neighborly.

Once the fireworks began, there were the usual sounds that rippled through the crowd. The older kids going "whoa!" and the little kids screaming with excitement over the bigger fireworks. The tipsy adults let out some whoops, and the sober ones said "cool." The fireworks in my city are the fanciest I've ever seen anywhere, choreographed perfectly to piped in music and showcasing crazy patterns and colors. There are ones that burst into geometric shapes, like hearts, and squares, and others that burst into wobbly pictures of smiley faces and planets with rings around them.

After the show had started for just a few minutes, a scraggley-voiced woman in the back of the crowd started yelling out what can only be described as...requests. She was obviously three sheets to the wind, this one, and she tipped her head back and screamed into the sky: "SHOW ME A HEART!!!!"

The fireworks went on, and so did she. "SHOW ME A HEART! C'MON! SHOW ME A HEART!" A minute went by, and there it was: an explosion of red that glittered a big bedazzled heart in the sky.

"SHOW ME A PLANET! HOW ABOUT A PLANET??" She went on. I looked back over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of her through the crowd. She had a look of complete faith on her face, as she shouted to the heavens. As soon as the planet glittered in the sky, she went on to the next request. I almost wanted to shout back "FREEBIRD!" or "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!" to mock this request-a-firework format, but then I didn't. Biology Girl, Jenny and I all smiled at each other, and had a good laugh about it on the walk home, but we (and no one else in the crowd as far as I could tell) didn't hinder her from the task at hand. The one that she requested most, yelled for the most, was the heart. "SHOW ME A HEART!" I found it to be so poetic, so heartbreaking, so funny, such a lonely-yet-jubilant plea to the sky.

Every time I see fireworks now, I think of this woman. And although I don't yell it out, I look up and I always, always think: show me a heart. Show me a heart.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, July 03, 2006

Friends in the Trenches

This Saturday night, I spent the evening at the book store/cafe down the street from my house chatting it up with Sweetbraids. She's a librarian too, and one that I get to work with often, so we have lots of work-related fodder for the gab-mill. We also have grown into good friends on non-librarian turf, which got me to thinking about the work-friend.

I have made a goodly amount of friends on the job. Not all of them, but maybe half of my good friends I met through work. Is that true for everyone? Or at least everyone who has a job? Maybe Paris Hilton doesn't meet people in the middle of...whatever it is she does. Or perhaps being a socialite is sort of her job, so anyone she meets while falling out of her dress on a red carpet somewhere constitutes friend-found-at-work.

In any job I ever had, I always got along with people and got pally with them when AT work, so I'm not really talking about that. I'm talking about the people that you meet at work, where the friendship goes off the work-page and into the personal-life-page. What is this weird page-metaphor that I am trying to draw out of thin air? Just go with it, people. You get what I'm saying. People that you hang out with even when you're not at work, of your own free will, people that you call or email just for the heck of it, the people that you make an effort for.

There are occupations that lend themselves to making friends at work. When I worked in the theatre (please pronounce that "the Thee-ah-tah!" and make jazz hands while doing so), everyone was friends. That's because you're at work for 16-plus hours a day, and you don't come home from work until the wee hours of the morning, and the hours you keep don't lend themselves to ever meeting anyone outside of that circle, ever. (Unless it's guys that are in bands, which is a whole other sordid story that I'd rather not get into, because it doesn't come off making me look too smart). So when I was doing that, I was friends with everyone I worked with, and literally no one else. Not so healthy, and can lead to Burnoutus Incestiata.

Since that time, the only other place where I made a ton of work friends was when I worked at a boat rental place for the local University. This was a shitty student job, yes, and it was of such a shitty caliber that I am completely embarrassed to say that it was NOT the shittiest job I ever had. It really should have been. I had a crazy married boss who conducted a messy affair with one of the college student employees. Her husband and her lover both had an uncanny resemblance to Shaggy from Scooby Doo, as I recall. No accounting for taste, I suppose. We had to schlep these canoes in and out of the water for people (many of whom were angry, horrible, drunken devil spawn) amidst pounds of goose crap and dirty lake water. We also had to deal with the sailing crowd who would come in and hit on us while simultaneously insulting us (so attractive, those Tommy Hilfiger types), and all of this for the low low price of 6.50 an hour. I hated that job. And yet, somehow I made some of the best friends I've ever had in the middle of that filth. Biology Girl, Jenny, HVD-- all three of them I owe to that cesspool of smelly lifejackets. Maybe there's something about going through such an experience that bonds people.

Now, in Libraryland, I have found another context wherein cool people seem to just fall out of the sky in front of me. And this time it's not because we all have to stay here until all hours of the day and night, and it's not because we're bonding over slipping and falling in goose dookie. I don't really know what it is. Librarians just seem to have a high proportion of good peeps. No late hours, no geese, no red carpet necessary.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl